available here, shows the Nikon D3100, D90, and D7000 as the three cameras we recommend, from most economical to most useful.
Well, we have to abridge that listing (if you are reading this blog from the archives, it may already have been updated). We will still accept the D90, but really don’t recommend it as a middle option. The camera was released in 2008, which means that it will be a four year old model by the time the program starts, and six years old by the time a student graduates. Instead we would like to recommend this years new D5100, which is a more powerful unit than the D90.
The D90 is not going away (yet): officially it is the D5000 that will be retired by Nikon. That particular model was released in 2009, a year after the D90, and the two sat fairly close together in the pricing strata.
But let’s not talk of the old models, but the new one. The D5100 looks to be a better fit in the mid-range. We still urge students to get the D7000 if their budget will allow it, since it is the top of the line model (other than the professional models). You will probably be able to run a business, or get a pro job, with a D7000 for a year or two, before you need to fork out the price of a used car for a professional camera body. (Seriously. It costs over $8000 to get a D3X. And that doesn’t come with a lens.)
The D5100 has a higher resolution than the D5000, 16.2 megapixals compared to 12.3 for the D5000 (and D90). There are three movie resolutions instead of 1, including full 1080. The LCD hinges off the side of the camera, rather than the back. Most users prefer the side hinge.
For more details on the system, visit this review.
(Photo credit Nikon Canada).